Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
From climate change to nuclear war to the rise of demagogic populists, our world is shaped by doomsday expectations. In this path-breaking book, Alison McQueen shows why three of history's greatest political realists feared apocalyptic politics. Niccolò Machiavelli in the midst of Italy's vicious power struggles, Thomas Hobbes during England's bloody civil war, and Hans Morgenthau at the dawn of the thermonuclear age all saw the temptation to prophesy the end of days. Each engaged in subtle and surprising strategies to oppose apocalypticism, from using its own rhetoric to neutralize its worst effects to insisting on a clear-eyed, tragic acceptance of the human condition. Scholarly yet accessible, this book is at once an ambitious contribution to the history of political thought and a work that speaks to our times.
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Absolving God: Thomas Hobbes's Scriptural Politics (in progress)
This book aims to account for dramatic changes in Thomas Hobbes’ strategies of religious and scriptural argument across his political works. While there is a growing literature on the importance of Hobbes’ religious arguments to his political and philosophical project, there has been virtually no work on the changes in the content and structure of these arguments over time. This book will seek to account for three such changes—Hobbes’ increasing focus on Scriptural and religious questions, his turn toward the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament), and his adoption of an increasingly multi-pronged argumentative strategy on religious questions. The paper “Mosaic Leviathan” offers a preliminary account of my argument about the second change. The paper "Absolving God's Laws" offers a preliminary account of my argument about the third change. In accounting for these changes, the book will use tools of automated text analysis to identify themes and shifts in religious discourse in the pamphlet literature of seventeenth-century England. It will also situate Hobbes’ changing approaches within broader debates about the political response to religious ideals and interests.